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SAFE COMMUNITIES NEWS

2023: Deadly for Motorcycle Crashes in Dane County

Originally Released: November 13, 2023.

The third quarter this year was significantly more deadly for motorcyclists in Dane County. From July through September, five people died in four motorcycle crashes, according to a new report from the Dane County Traffic Safety Commission (TSC), a 48-member coalition of law enforcement and other agencies which meets quarterly to monitor traffic crash data.

Cheryl Wittke, TSC co-chair and executive director of Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County, said these four motorcycle crashes accounted for half of all motor vehicle crashes during those three months and more than half of all fatalities.

Through October this year, Dane County experienced 98 motorcycle crashes, with 6 fatalities and 76 injuries, which already exceeds 2022’s year-end totals of 87 crashes, 2 fatalities and 55 injuries.

Randy Wiessinger, TSC member and Law Enforcement Liaison/Consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety and Technical Services, emphasized it’s not just Dane County.

“So far this year, 98 fatal motorcycle crashes across Wisconsin have resulted in 101 deaths,” he said. “In two thirds of those deaths, the driver was not wearing a helmet. The good weather has brought more motorcycles out on the road, and we’re seeing more in northern Wisconsin than before. Eleven of the 98 fatalities so far have involved motorcycle-deer collisions.”

Lt. Jen Hannah, TSC member and supervisor of Madison Police Department Traffic and Specialized Services had the difficult task of reporting motorcycle traffic fatalities at the recent Traffic Safety Commission meeting since all happened in Madison.

“All of the crashes, except for one, involved riders 30 years old or younger, Lt. Hannah said. “It’s so sad their lives were cut short, and families and friends left to grieve their loss.” She said she’ll never forget one motorcycle crash a few years ago in which the driver’s father came to the scene, not knowing his son had died. “It was heartbreaking. The medical examiner had not given him the official death notification, but he knew. My heart broke for him.

“Speeding was involved in most of the motorcycle deaths,” she added. “One driver was going 130 mph. Speeding poses not only a risk to motorcyclists but endangers everyone using the roads,
including bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Wittke noted that motorcycles involve extra risk compared with passenger vehicles, including less driver and passenger protection in a crash. “The chances of dying in a motorcycle crash are five
times higher than in a car. But it’s possible to reduce the risk without diminishing the joys and thrills that define motorcycling,” she said. “One of the easiest ways is to wear a properly fitted, DOT-compliant helmet,” she said, noting that in Wisconsin, helmets are required only for riders and passengers under 18. “Drivers also need to always ride sober and obey speed limits.”

Wittke said that newer automobile crash avoidance systems such as automatic emergency braking and left turn assist can help avoid crashes with motorcyclists, but many older vehicles don’t
have those. A newer innovation is automatic braking systems (ABS) on motorcycles, which are required in many countries but not in the U.S. where one-third of all newly sold motorcycles are not equipped with ABS.

“Car and truck drivers also need to watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning at intersections. Safe driving and riding practices by all road users will help reduce the number of tragic
motorcycle fatalities and injuries on our county’s roads,” Wittke said.

RESOURCES

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Treatment Key

Safe communities has complied a list of abbreviation definitions for finding the right treatment for you.

MAT: Medication for Addiction Treatment.
OP: Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends. individual and group therapy, these can include or not include MAT.
IOP: Intensive Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends individual and extended groups, 9-12 hours a week.
Residential: person lives at the facility for a period of at least 14 days, some last as many as 45 days.
PHP: Partial Hospitalization Program is a structured mental health treatment program that runs for several hours each day, three to five days per week.
DBT: Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that integrates mindfulness techniques.